Cuban Police Search for Person Responsible for LGBTI March

A soldier organizes the repression while dozens of activists film the unprecedented LGBTI march on Saturday in Havana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 17 May 2019 — The Cuban Police are looking for the person responsible for the LGBTI march last Saturday, which has been a real headache to the authorities. If the government sponsored Cuban National Center for Sex Education (Cenesex) thought that their call for a boycott of the march would help to close ranks with officialdom, the force used against protesters who claimed diversity in a festive atmosphere has served to put the international media focus on an authority that represses homosexuals.

Now, with the disaster consummated, the Plaza of the Revolution tries to locate some kind of leader who came up with the idea of marching as an alternative to the cancelled Conga Against Homophobia. This Thursday, the designer and LGBT activist, Roberto Ramos Mori, was arrested at the entrance to his workplace in Old Havana, the gallery workshop La Marca, by agents of the State Security.

Around 5:30 in the afternoon, a man who did not identify himself, handcuffed Ramos and put him in a vehicle in the presence of his colleagues after warning him: “You calm down.”

Ramos was detained for approximately four hours, according to what he told 14ymedio. “They took me to the Zanja Police Station, nothing happened in the car, there was no violence. At the station they made me wait a tremendous amount of time for the investigator, who did not arrive,” he says. The designer is one of those activists of the LGBTI community who participated in the march last week in Prado.

“They are looking for the manager [of the 11 May March],” he says. The activist explains that, when the investigator arrived at the station, they took him to an interrogation room, where the officer told him: “I know it was you who organized the march.” “I was there but I did not organize anything,” Ramos replied.

The designer maintains that he was “aware that he was breaking the law” when he decided to attend the independent demonstration, but that “there are times when one has to say it’s time.”

During the interrogation they wanted to know his relationship with other people who participated in the march but he didn’t know them. “They asked me if I knew Oscar Casanella or Urquiola, but I have nothing to do with them, my friends are a bunch of tattoo geeks,” he says. He adds that if he knew about Urquiola it is “because of everything that happened to him,” recently.

“I did not like that they did not officially cite me, I did not like that they went to La Marca, my place of work, and they handcuffed me and took me in a private car in front of my colleagues who did not understand what was happening,” denounces Ramos.

In fact, before taking him off in handcuffs, one of the officers, dressed in civilian clothes, entered La Marca asking Ramos to accompany him to show him some designs because he wanted to get a tattoo. When he refused to do it the man asked him to bring him the drawings and insisted on dealing only with him in the car. Finally, he took him off in handcuffs.

Artists and work colleagues mobilized on the networks in solidarity with the designer and demanded his release.

The LGBTI march last Saturday was suppressed by the forces of State Security and the police working jointly after it marched successfully from Central Park to Prado and the Malecón. Since the march had been called via social networks, the authorities were looking for a person responsible for the initiative, but activists and supporters insist that it was something spontaneous and without leaders.

The director of the National Center for Sexual Education, Mariela Castro Espin, Raul Castro’s daughter, described those who promoted the march as “lackeys of mercenary activism” and said that everything had been organized from Miami and Matanzas, but she was not able to show a single proof of her accusation.

Roberto Ramos Mori, 44, as well as an activist, is well known in the world of culture for his creative work. He graduated in Industrial Design from the Higher Institute of Design in the specialty of clothing. He worked as a designer at the El Público Theater Company and is coordinator at La Marca studio, where he also organizes concerts and community activities.


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